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A Publication of St. Charles County Government - June 2019

Top Five
Things to Know About St. Charles County This Month

1. Corrections Launches CERT Team, Feasibility Study

County Justice Center Building
In the 30 years since the St. Charles County Justice Center (County Jail) opened, more than 200,000 inmates have gone through its doors to spend hours to years within its walls. A county jail has a mix of purposes: housing pretrial detainees waiting to bond out or go to trial, convicted inmates awaiting rehearings or probation revocations before transfer to state prisons, and individuals serving sentences that state laws require be served at the County Jail. At construction, the average daily population was expected to be well under 200. Since 2008, the average daily population has increased from 370 to nearly 450. This increased volume has taken its toll on the jail structure.

“We’re also seeing more challenging prisoners,” says Department of Corrections Director Dan Keen. “Many are violent offenders of drug-related crimes who require longer stays and increased needs such as closer supervision, mental health assessments, suicide prevention and drug rehabilitation services.” The facility was not built to accommodate these increased needs.

The St. Charles County Corrections Department is handling these issues head-on and continuing its dedication to public safety by commissioning a new Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT) and conducting a feasibility study that will help determine how to accommodate jail population growth.
  • The CERT team will be deployed for any major incident that may occur on jail property. “It’s important to have staff properly trained to handle critical situations,” Keen says. “The individuals on this team are dedicated to ensure everyone —including our inmates—is safe from harm in any kind of emergency situation.”

    Corrections employees were given the opportunity to volunteer to be on the team and 16 staff qualified to join CERT. All members of the team were required to demonstrate the physical and mental stamina necessary for handling prolonged emergencies by participating in a 40-hour, in-house training session where they learned self-defense and control tactics, confrontational awareness, riot control, hand and arm signals, cell extractions, inmate escorting and other emergency procedures. CERT members will undergo additional training this summer.
  • The feasibility study is examining jail population trends arising from changes in crime patterns, sentencing requirements, state criminal and sentencing laws, and criminal activity in the county to determine if a reorganization and renovation of the County Jail can more adequately accommodate the increased needs and growing number of prisoners. Longer stays by offenders put a strain on building and County resources. The jail was built to accommodate 218 inmates. Maximum capacity of the jail at this time is 528.

    The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. 

2. Technology, Tenacity and Time Solve a Cold Case

Prosecuting Attorney Housman Press Conference

Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar (top center) explains during a press conference on June 5, 2019, how the St. Charles County Police Department Crime Lab solved the Angie Housman case.

Top, left to right: Lieutenant Colonel John Lankford, St. Ann Police Department; Tom Neer, Retired St. Charles County Sheriff; Peggy Neer, Retired Lieutenant for the St. Charles County Sheriff's Department; Lieutenant Ed Copeland, St. Charles County Police; Tim Lohmar; Chief Aaron Jimenez, St. Ann Police Department; Chief David Todd, St. Charles County Police Department; and Captain Dan DeCarli, Ferguson Police Department and Commander of the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis.
 
Bottom, left to right: Philip Groenweghe, St. Charles County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney; Dulany Harms, St. Charles County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney; Mike Harvey, Investigator for the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney; Dan Fahnestock, St. Charles County Police DNA Technical Leader; Brian Krey, St. Charles County Police Senior Forensic Scientist; and Bryan Hampton, St. Charles County Police Crime Lab Director.

It was a cold case; still unsolved after 25 years. But St. Charles County Police Crime Lab Director Bryan Hampton uses a model he calls the three Ts: Technology, Tenacity and Time. And that paid off big time.

St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar announced recently that a suspect has been identified and formally charged with murder in the Nov. 18, 1993, abduction and sexual assault of 9-year-old Angie Housman. Angie was abducted after getting off her school bus in St. Ann and found nine days later in Busch Wildlife in St. Charles County.

After years of gathering, testing and maintaining evidence, advances in the use of DNA analysis enabled the St. Charles County Police Department’s Crime Lab to test a pea-sized piece of pink material found at the scene. The material held DNA that led to the suspect.
  • Technology: At the time of Angie’s abduction, DNA technology was in the infancy stage and wasn’t used regularly as an investigative technique. Until recently, color in fabric, such as the material found at the scene, could interfere with DNA testing.

    Every time a piece of evidence is tested, it becomes more difficult to find something to test on it. “If they had tested the dyed evidence any sooner than they did,” says Lohmar, “there is a very good chance nothing would have come about because the technology was not advanced enough. It would have very likely been put back and never tested again.”

  • Tenacity: While the DNA was the key, there was more. “It was good science, good lab work and good luck,” says Lohmar. “Bryan Hampton told me it was like finding a needle in a haystack, and without a magnet, they still found it. There is no way to know where DNA may be on an item, but they kept looking.”

    Hampton says: “Lead Analyst and Senior Forensic Scientist Brian Krey kept testing those little tiny pieces just to find something that might develop a lead. And eventually he did.”

  • Time: Literally hundreds of investigators worked on this case over the past 25 years. The Major Case Squad was activated when the case began, and multiple agencies have been involved in the effort. The Crime Lab tested more than 400 samples in this case—a number unheard of in DNA testing.
Thanks to the St. Charles County Police Department, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Crime Lab staff and multiple agencies in the metropolitan area, a fourth T can be added to the model: Teamwork.

The St. Charles County Police Department Crime Lab is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors – Laboratory Accreditation Board. It provides state-of-the-art forensic analysis of evidence submitted from law enforcement agencies in and around St. Charles County. The lab analyzes approximately 2,000 cases each year with four full-time scientists.

3.  Key Tips to Prepare, Plan for Severe Weather, Flooding

Aerial of flooding in St. Charles County

The recent tornadoes and flooding remind us all that St. Charles County is no stranger to a variety of natural disasters. Knowledge about these events provides you with an understanding of what to expect. Once you know what to prepare for, a plan of action can guide you and your family safely through all types of emergencies. St. Charles County Regional Emergency Management provides these important tips for before, during and after a severe weather or flooding event:                                                                               

  1. Preparedness: Use the Ready in 3 program to be prepared for a weather emergency. 

    First, create a plan that factors in home, school, work and anywhere else you might be. Designate family meeting places and brainstorm situations with family members. 

    Second, prepare a kit. Take into consideration that you might not be able to access food or water for several days or that electricity may be out. Don’t forget to include pets in preparations.

    Third, listen for information. Have a variety of information resources, including a NOAA weather radio and smart phone apps. Remember that outdoor warning sirens are meant to warn people outside, so these should not be relied upon as the sole source of information. St. Charles County Regional Emergency Management offers regular updates online and on Facebook, and the County’s free SCCMO AlertMe service provides phone and/or email notifications. Please note: The National Weather Service provides alerts for thunderstorms and tornadoes; these notifications are not available through SCCMO AlertMe.

    Talk about your plan with your family and revisit it periodically so everyone knows what to do should severe weather occur.

  2. Know the Difference Between Watches and Warnings: Whether it’s a tornado, severe weather or flooding, watches and warnings help distinguish the severity of the alert. A watch means the potential exists for severe weather. A warning means the event already is occurring or will soon and requires immediate action. 

  3. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings When Driving: Know where the flood-prone areas are in our community and be aware. If flooding occurs, do not drive through flood waters and be especially cautious at night. Remember: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” If you’re driving and a tornado is in your vicinity, stay away from bridge/highway overpasses. Pull over and park. Keep your seatbelt on and the engine running. Put your head down below the windows and cover your head with your hands and a blanket or jacket, if available. 

    Please understand that sightseeing in flooded areas or areas where there is tornado or other storm debris is unsafe for everyone involved. Flood waters are unhealthy, debris is dangerous, and unnecessary traffic on the roads in these areas causes backups and safety issues for first responders.

  4. Let Others Know You’re Safe: Letting family and friends know you’re safe may limit unnecessary use of emergency responders’ resources. Make communication with friends and relatives part of your emergency plan.


Learn how County departments are managing flood recovery efforts in this County News Update.




4. Veterans Tribute Park Named Top "Awesome Playground" 

Veterans Tribute Park Playground

Veterans Tribute Park (above) was recently highlighted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The paper featured an article on Play St. Louis' "10-plus awesome playgrounds" list, and this St. Charles County Parks favorite made the cut. Play St. Louis is a website where kid-friendly destinations in the area are reviewed. The site currently features nearly 400 parks and playgrounds with photos. Veterans Tribute Park was recognized for its "many cool and unique amenities."

Veterans Tribute Park opened in October 2018, and through May 2019 has had more than 330,000 visitors! The park's destination playground for children of all abilities encompasses social/emotional, physical, sensory, cognitive, and communication development. The playground is divided into zones: interactive and motion-activated water play, music play, adventure play with climbing features, inclusive swings, and a hillside slide. The park also includes a walking and biking trail system spanning 1.6 miles, two lakes stocked for catch-and-release fishing, three open-play fields, and a 3-acre off-leash dog park with large and small dog areas. 
 
The County operates 3,343 acres of parkland with an additional 300 set aside for future development. In 2018, an estimated 1,558,899 visited one of the County’s 15 parks. All acquisitions, development and operations of County parks are totally funded from a local use tax dedicated on out-of-state purchases approved by voters in 1997.

ICYMI: Check out this 360 video of the water play area on SCCMO-TV!


5. Canine Carnival at Pet Adoption Center Set for July 20

Canine Carnival Dog with Balloons

Mark your calendars: The St. Charles County Pet Adoption Center's 3rd Annual Canine Carnival celebrates the tight bond that people have with their dogs. Canines and their families are welcome at this free, family-friendly event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, that features:

  • A special adoption rate of $30 (half-off the regular fee) for all dogs, ages 2 and older. Adoptions include a health examination, initial vaccinations, spay or neuter, and microchipping. View available pets online.

  • Animal demonstrations.

  • Carnival games.

  • Giveaways and raffles.
  • Treats available for purchase.

  • New this year: The Bathing Beauties and Dudes Beach Wear/Swimsuit contest for dogs! Entry fee is $5 and prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place contestants. Registration begins at 12 p.m. for the 12:30 p.m. competition.
The Pet Adoption Center features canines of many breeds, sizes and ages that are eager to join forever homes. During your visit, staff will help you select the best pet for your family, allow time for interaction before adoption, and provide assistance on pet parenting.

Can't make it to the Canine Carnival? The Pet Adoption Center offers affordable adoptions throughout the year. Dogs and cats of all ages can be adopted for $60. The facility is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (with extended hours until 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays), and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays.
 
Follow the Department of Public Health on Facebook and the Pet Adoption Center on Instagram for updates about the event!

On SCCMO-TV in June...


Click on the images below, visit the SCCMO-TV YouTube channel or tv.sccmo.org to watch recent County Council meetings, hear the latest local news and helpful information on County News Updates, see what's happening in County Parks, and more. If you love the outdoors, learn more about monthly Phenological Walks at Veterans Tribute Park and The Park at New Melle Lakes.

To view agendas and minutes from Council meetings, visit sccmo.org.

County News Update
County Council Meetings
Phenological Walks Thumbnail

County Executive Steve Ehlmann

A Look Back with the County Executive


As you know from these articles, I enjoy history. And while I appreciate what all of our parks have to offer, I have a special affinity for the St. Charles County Heritage Museum. That’s not just because a distant cousin of mine once owned and lived on the property, but also because it is rich in history...MORE                 


Council Comments

Councilman Dave Hammond

Dave Hammond, District 4

Summer is here, which means road construction, repairs, striping and more are in full swing throughout St. Charles County. While we are all excited to get out and enjoy the warmer weather, driving recklessly through road work zones can have deadly consequences. Driving safely and being aware of road projects will keep us all safe...MORE




Calendar

Calendar, Reminders and Directory


Happy Independence Day!
County Government offices will be closed on Thursday, July 4.
Take Note:
  • The American Red Cross of Missouri is hosting a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) to assist residents with the flood recovery process from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, June 29, at St. Charles Christian Church, 3337 Rue Royale St., St. Charles. For more information and locations of other centers, visit the Red Cross Facebook page.

  • The St. Charles County Department of Public Health reminds homeowners, first responders and volunteers working in or near floodwaters to make certain their tetanus vaccinations are up to date. Tetanus shots—either Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis (Tdap) or Tetanus-Diphtheria (Td)—for flood recovery efforts in St. Charles County can be obtained through the Public Health or other medical providers. Learn more.

  • Applications for the 2019 St. Charles County Police Department Citizen Police Academy will be available online Tuesday, July 2. This free program provides a first-hand look into the daily operations of the SCCPD and the law enforcement profession. The 12-week class is held 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Mondays, September–December, and covers patrol, special operations, use of force, crime scene investigations, crime lab operations, police K9, firearms, force on force, less lethal weapons, and communications operations. Applications are due July 16. 


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